Logistics

Railways looks to redeploy ‘surplus’ staff

Mamuni Das | Updated on October 17, 2019 Published on October 17, 2019

Faces revenue pressure in August, September

Indian Railways, the national transporter and the largest employer in the country, in an internal meeting admitted it is ‘overstaffed’ and discussed the need to deploy its surplus staff on the field or in any other direct operations.

“There is so much of over-staffing in the Railways. All senior officers should review the same and surplus staff should be used only for operational work. Strength and deployment of peons should be reviewed specifically. Only bare minimum staff should be used,” are some of the points listed under the “directions given by the Minister of Railways”, according to the minutes of the meeting taken by the Railway Minister Piyush Goyal recently.

For the Railways, the only government body that pays its staff entirely from its revenue, staff cost accounts for the biggest chunk of expenditure. Over 70 per cent of its operating expenses goes towards paying wages to staff.

That said, last year too, the Railways embarked on its largest hiring plan. It conducted exams to induct over one lakh people in the categories of assistant loco pilot and trackmen, among others. It also plans to start the process this year to hire over two lakh employees, the Minister had announced.

Concerns on redeploying staff are being raised at a time when the Railways is also facing downward pressure on the revenue front due to drop in freight loading — another issue that was discussed at the meeting. Earnings from freight loading are the largest contributor to the revenue of the behemoth, with more than two-third accruing from revenue of cargo.

In last two months —- both August and September — the Railways saw its freight loading drop by over 6 per cent against the corresponding months last year. Also, its net tonne km (NTKM) — a productivity parameter that measures both the freight loaded and distance moved by trains — has dipped in September (11 per cent) and August (8.7 per cent) against the corresponding months last year, shows data from the Railways. The earnings from freight segment have also dropped in September (by 4.43 per cent) and August (by 4.9 per cent).

Earlier this year, the Minister had told BusinessLine that despite automation in the railways, jobs at the public transporters won’t be impacted as the growth in the Railways will create demand for more people.

Published on October 17, 2019
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